"QUANTUM SHOT" #326
Travelogue by Patryk Pawel Moriak, Link
Historical Crossroad Between Eastern and Western Cultures
Welcome our contributing travel writer Patryk Pawel Moriak. For Patryk "traveling means something more than just nature or landscapes. It gives opportunity to admire beautiful architecture, meet interesting people, see specific wild life and uncommon events, different in every part of the world." Here is the abridged version of his travelogue from the recent journey across Turkey:
Turkey has always fascinated both me and my girlfriend. We've heard that each area of the country has its own spirit, history, landscape and even cuisine. With its wonderful nature, cultural mix and a 10,000 years-old heritage, much of which is still being uncovered, Turkey has so much to offer that it is not surprising one trip there is never enough.
Oludeniz' Lagoon, near Fethiye
We don't usually use travel agents to organize our trips. Arranging things on our own is an opportunity to better feel the spirit and atmosphere of the places we visit. We bought the return tickets from London to Istanbul for a three-week trek across the most interesting and famous places in Turkey:
Istanbul - Izmir - Selcuk - Efez - Dilek National Park - Pammukale - Fethiye - Saklikent Gorge - Olu Deniz - Antalya - Termessos - Kapadokya - Istanbul.
We only used the public transport and slept in inexpensive hotels or hostels. Make sure to try Turkey's fantastic cuisine: self-catering is not a good idea since you can dine in restaurants serving very good, hot meals for the price of supermarket food.
Istanbul: part Asia, part Europe
Hagia Sophia - one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral for 1,000 years up until the completion of the cathedral in Seville.
The Fountains at the Church of Hagia Sophia
Across from Hagia Sophia is another prominent landmark of the city - The "Blue Mosque" of Sultan Akhmed, completed in 1616. It is considered to be the greatest masterpiece of Ottoman and Islamic architects who wanted to demonstrate that their buildings can rival anything their Christian predecessors had created:
The "Blue Mosque" of Sultan Akhmed
Travel tip:: The best way to get to the city centre from the airport for a reasonable price is not to listen to any taxi drivers or private tourist informations and go straight to the subway terminal. For 2 tickets for 1,30 New Turkish Lira each, you will get to the Sultanahmed where the biggest attractions of the city are waiting for you.
One of the most beautiful places I've seen in Turkey, Dilek Yarimadasi National Park is located in the region of Kusadasi and Soke, in the province of Aydin. The park can be reached via the Kusadasi – Soke highway. As the weather was fantastic we took a motorbike from Selcuk and spent a great time in the park.
The northern side of the park has plants rarely seen in the Mediterranean region. There are many bays and chestnut trees, and it is the only area where the Finike juniper and pirnal oaks can be found together. Mediterranean seals and sea turtles have breeding grounds on these shores, and one can enjoy walking, water sports and picnics for eight months of a year from April to December, and go swimming throughout the summer months.
You can walk among the linden and chestnut trees, cycle through pine woods, go rock climbing, or fishing for example. Among many rare and endangered bird species which can be seen in the park are the Dalmatian pelican and pygmy cormorant, and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of wild horses.
Calcium-ridged pools look like ice
Pammukkale was the next stop for us after having a great time in Dilek National Park and Ephesus. This place is well-known for its white calcium ridged pools on one side of the mountain.
One of the most popular (and cheapest) tourist sites in the world
At last we left Selcuk and took a bus to the south. We stayed in Fethiye which is located 135 kms southwest of Marmaris - a pretty town at the hillsides of the Mount Mendos. Mendos is the part of the Taurus Mountain chain, formed by rises and falls of the crust during the Tertiary Geological Period. Hundreds of picturesque bays follow each other along the Fethiye shoreline. This are is one of the most popular touristic sites in the world (and one of the cheapest).
(image credit: estates-turkey.com)
Oludeniz is situated just a 20 minutes drive from Fethiye and has an astonishing crystal-clear lagoon and a beautiful photogenic grey-white beach that adorns almost every Turkish travel brochure.
Travel tip: When planning your trip to Fethiye and surrounding area, try to visit these places: Araxa - with its water spring, Letoon - a holy city, the ancient city of Cadianda, Telmessos, Likya Rocky Tombs, Fethiye Castle, Ölüdeniz (Blue Lagoon) referred as "The Eden bestowed by God to World", Kelebekler Vadisi (Butterfly Valley), Saklıkent (Hidden City), fantastic beaches and much more...
Many people recommended us to visit Saklikent Gorge, near Toros, between Fethiye and Kas. It's called "The Hidden Valley" and is well known as the longest and deepest gorge in Turkey - 18 km long and so steep and narrow that the sun can not reach the water, leaving it deliciously icy-cold in the summer. You feel almost like on a different planet among high rocks, walking across the natural style bridge and along the canyon path. You can also take a mud bath. Just be careful with your equipment :-)
It's not easy to explore the mountains located around as there is not many footpaths, but you can get a great point of view of this amazing place if you fancy para-gliding. It's not the cheapest way of spending time in Olu Deniz, but from the height of 2000 metres over the Blue Lagoon where the flights begin, you will get the best point-of-view for your shots.
"Machu Picchu" of Turkey
Our next stop was the city of Antalya - pretty impressive, but we couldn't wait to see one of the best preserved ancient cities of Turkey, Termessos.
This mysterious place lies at an altitude of 1050 metres in the Taurus Mountains. Unfortunately Termessos is not accessible directly by local transport. The most comfortable way to get there is to rent a car. If you're not afraid of 9 km walk, then take an Antalya-Korkuteli bus, and take off at the road junction to Termessos. The walk takes about 2 hours at a steady pace. It's not so tiring even with another 20 minutes steep hike up to the ruins.
Cappadocia's Rock City
We arrived in Goreme at 4.00am after a long trip from Antalya. Before exploring the amazing rocky formations we decided to have a quick look into the nearest valley. Luckily we managed to get there a few minutes before sunrise so I had enough time to set up the camera on the tripod and find some interesting details in a foreground.
The view was incredible specially when loads of balloons started appearing on the horizon:
The natural rock citadel of Uchisar which you can see in the very back is the tallest point in Cappadocia, visible for a great distance from the region's other towns such as Urgup and Avanos. This shot was taken from the top of Goreme. You will find there hotels, inns, rental houses and hostels, some of them with cave rooms, but the main reason visitors go there is to climb to the top of the tall rock outcrop via tunnels and enjoy the spectacular panoramic view, the best view of Cappadocia except for that which you get from a hot-air balloon.
We thank Turkey for its beauty, wilderness, culture, sunshine, perfectly clear water, hospitality and cuisine. The trip brought us new experiences, memories and gave us a much better idea of what an amazing country it really is.
Also worth mentioning is Patrick's spell-binding photographs of Scotland:
"Edinburgh, view from the Calton Hill"
"Sanctuary: The Old Man of Storr"
Check out the whole set here
All photos are copyright Patryk Pawel Moriak, all rights reserved. Text & images are by permission for Dark Roasted Blend.
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